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Farmington soccer teams head toward sections on different paths

Senior captain Cole Eckert scored the Farmington boys' lone goal in the win against Rosemount. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Junior Callie Beck battles for the ball during the Tigers' 3-0 loss to the Irish. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

There is just one week left in the regular season for the Farmington Tigers boys' and girls' soccer teams. They both have three matches left before section play starts, but the two teams are on very different paths as they head toward the playoffs. The Tiger boys have an overall record of 8-2-3 and sit all alone in third place in the South Suburban Conference with 16 points, two points behind leaders Prior Lake and Eastview. They won their two matches last week against Shakopee and Rosemount by identical 1-0 scores after ties in their two prior matches. Meanwhile, the Farmington girls are 5-6-2 and most of their struggles have come against SSC teams, in which they have a 1-3-2 record. They are struggling to put the ball in the net as they have scored just two goals in their last six matches, including being shutout in five of them.

Boys taking advantage of experienced team

The Farmington boys have won or tied six of their last eight matches and have outscored their opponents 7-4 in those games. Their lineup is filled with seniors and juniors who have plenty of varsity experience and it shows on the field.

"It's just teamwork, most of our team, I've been playing with these kids since we were three on our rec team," senior goalkeeper Will Buffington said. "Cole, Carter, Gavin, all of them, we've been playing since we were young. We have the chemistry, we've been doing everything we've been doing since then except better now, everybody on the team is family, we're friends. I feel like that really helps us."

Junior captain Alex Kiage praised the play of a fellow senior.

"Caleb Rollag has been huge for us this year," he said. "Last year he spent most of the year sidelined with injuries, but he's come back and he's basically been the centerpiece of our midfield. He's a big rock right in there, no one can get past him and he'll end up marking up on the other team's best midfielder. He's a big part of a lot of our shutouts this year."

With just three matches left until sections, the two said their team needs to play a full match against good teams.

"We need to clean up our, once a game for a 10 minute or 20 minute period, we'll just break down," Buffington said. "Even during this game (against Rosemount) we dominated the entire game with the exception of 10, 15 minutes where they had the ball in our half and we just couldn't keep it together. Against good section teams, we can't do that, we have to go hard the entire game."

"We just have to put the ball in the net," Kiage said. "The most goals we've scored this year is three, a lot of times there's going to be teams that are going to be pushing up, they're going to put as much pressure because they're playing to stay in the game, if we just give up one goal and we can't put the ball in the net then our season is over."

Girls hope to get hot at end of the season

Looking closer at the Tiger girls' 5-6-1 record, head coach Aaron Johnson pointed out that they have played a tough schedule and their losses have come to very tough teams. Those six losses have come to Minnetonka, Wayzata, Lakeville North, Eagan, Rosemount and Eden Prairie. As of Sept. 30, four of those six teams are ranked in the top-10 in class AA (Eagan No. 1, Wayzata No. 2, Eden Prairie No. 6 and Minnetonka No. 9) and Lakeville North and Rosemount are certainly no slouches either.

Johnson said that his team's defense has been good almost all year (they have given up three goals or more just twice this season), but that the offense has been lacking.

"We've struggled at times getting enough attack going," he said. "Which at times, with not having much of an attack, we've been on our heels quite a bit (against Rosemount)."

The key to that defense, according to Johnson, has been senior leadership.

"We've got some good seniors—Emma Johnson, a senior who's very good back there—Mallory (Johnson) is a junior right next to her and then Tessa (Ericksen, a senior), who's a defensive mid right in front, those three right there are fantastic defensively," he said. "Then we've got a couple girls on the outside and we sub a couple girls in."

How to get the offense going is still the main question facing Johnson and the Tigers.

"We are who we are, we play hard, we've got girls who are playing hard and we play four or five runs and we have one forward," he said. "Tonight we gave up two goals when we changed to 4-4-2 with two forwards. We tried to generate some offense to get an extra goal and when we did that we kind of left ourselves open in the back sometimes. We'll continue to play good defense and try to get what we can offensively, whether it's corner kicks or set pieces, playing hard and hoping that something happens. I kind of feel like that sooner or later the odds will come for ya, we've been unlucky and haven't got some of the breaks and I feel like if we keep working hard, something good is going to come from all of that."

The Farmington girls were in similar situation last season before they were able to get hot at the end of the regular season and made it all the way to the section championship game.

Both teams finish the season with Burnsville at home on Tuesday, Oct. 2, Lakeville South at home on Thursday, Oct. 4, and head to Rochester Mayo on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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